The Colossal Impact of Mining

Note: Article adapted from here.

Mining has played a vital role in the development of our society for centuries. The mined materials are the foundations of our homes, transportation, technological devices and more. The industry is also economically significant in producing regions, serving as a primary source of income for its residents. However, the dauntingly substantial environmental harm associated with mines is much too large to ignore, as erosion takes over landscapes and pollutants fill our water and air. The mining process involves the oxidation of sulphide miners which produce acidic conditions, consequently releasing vast amounts of toxic waste into our surroundings. When mining first began, our knowledge of these were bleak. Years later the inherited legacy of damage can be seen through remnants of mining waste and concerning water quality in surrounding regions.

As of late, the mining industry has taken initiatives to lessen the impact of mining activities. One of the ways is through reclamation; whereby healthy soil is deposited onto old mine sites to neutralise the acidity and promote the growth of new vegetation. However, this process is exorbitant and costs upwards of tens of thousands of dollars per acre of reclaimed land. Another method is to provide treatment to the contaminated soil and water. The high level of metal runoff in our land and water beds has created significant harm to the health of people and the ecosystem as a whole. Polluted soil is often moved to specially designed repositories. The treatment of water involves adding a neutralising material to reduce the high levels of acidity. Both of these treatments, like the last, are extremely costly and difficult to implement by governments in developing countries, where the majority of mining activities take place, as they lack the funding. It is also crucial to prevent acid rock drainage in order to mitigate further damage to the surrounding water bodies. The treatment plants also hold associated risks. They generate large amounts of sludge, which is immensely challenging to dispose of. Smelter emissions must also be controlled as sulphurdioxide and particulate matter infiltrate the atmosphere and exacerbate air pollution which holds dire risks. Although modern mining has implemented some of these measures to mitigate the colossal damage they create, it is not enough. These methods require a high budget, which is not feasible at a largescale for many countries where mining activities are predominant. A sustainable solution is critical for the preservation of our environment, now more than ever.

Clean Mining, part of the Clean Earth Technologies Group has a non-toxic alternative that replaces the need for costly post-extraction reparations. Their revolutionary process completely eliminates the use of poisonous cyanide, replacing it with a non-toxic gold recovery reagent. The mining industry thus has an environmentally sustainable solution.